The Judgement

The Judge came into the village with
A troop of the finest horse,
The sunshine gleamed on their breastplates
And their guns and their swords, of course,
He wasn’t there to be friendly, but
To make the rebels aware,
And carried the King’s own warrant to
Set up his courthouse there.

The troop took over the Mason’s Hall
The Judge took over the church,
And set up a bench down in the nave
As the troops set out to search,
They looked for the signs of weaponry
In the homes of the poorest men,
Tearing apart the hovels in
The search for the rebels, then.

To root out the roughshod army that
Had marched to defy the king,
Who tore up the standard prayer book
That the king was offering,
They forced the priests to reverse the mass
To the way it was done before,
Laying a siege to Exeter
In the way of a civil war.

Now the troops rode into the villages
And they held the men in chains,
Sworn to see that they paid in blood
For their temper, and their pains,
The women were wailing in the streets
As their men were taken in,
To answer to a black-hooded Judge
For their crimes against the King.

There wasn’t a gallows large enough
For the men that he meant to hang,
But plenty of trees around the leas
That the cattle grazed upon,
And plenty of boughs and branches that
Would groan with the weight of men,
Whose only fault was this one revolt
When their faith was changed again.

They hung like fruit from the saplings,
They choked their lives from a limb,
They swung on ropes from the mighty oaks
In an orgy of suffering,
The farms lay waste in the country,
The crops lay waste in the fields,
There wasn’t an army of labourers
Just troops, with their swords and shields.

The Judge climbed into his black teak coach
Rode out of the village grounds,
While children wailed and the women paled
In cutting their husbands down.
The horror lay in the children’s genes
For generations, it’s said,
Till years along they would right the wrong
By taking a bad king’s head.

12 June 2015

by David Lewis Paget

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